São Paulo: “Sex-Death Hotelier T-Shirt Benefits Orphans!”

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Camisetas do dono do Bahamas rendem R$ 6 mil a orfanato: “T-shirts featuring Bahamas nightclub owner yield R$6,000 for orphanage.”

Back when I first met my wife and we traveled to Los Angeles together on family business of mine, our friends back in São Paulo all wanted the same thing: Go to a certain boutique in Westlake and get everyone a cheap “Free Winona (Ryder)” t-shirt.

Which we did. I also took Neuza to the Saks Fifth Avenue on Wilshire Blvd. where Winona was arrested for shoplifting, snapped her with the bronze statue of John Wayne at the editorial offices of Hustler magazine, took her to the Westwood military cemetry where my granddad, the Colonel, is buried, and showed her the UCLA hospital where I was born.

I was talking (drinking “stupefyingly chilled” beer) with some friends here in Sampa the other evening and none of them were aware that the saga of São Paulo “sex entrepreneur” Oscar Maroni has been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal:

They did, however, tell me the joke that’s going around about the guy:

A plane crashes at Congonhas, killing nearly 200 people. And who do they arrest? The guy who owns the whorehouse!

A follow-up, from G1/Globo.

Se por um lado a confecção de camisetas com as inscrições “Free Oscar” foi encarada como mais uma “jogada de marketing” do dono da boate Bahamas, Oscar Maroni, na outra ponta, a instituição de caridade para onde o dinheiro das vendas é direcionado agradece à popularidade do empresário, preso desde 14 de agosto.

If on one hand the making up of t-shirts bearing the inscription “Free Oscar” has been tagged as just another “marketing ploy” by the owner of the Bahamas nightclub, Oscar Maroni, on the other hand, the charitable institution to which the proceeds of sales of the t-shirts is destined is grateful for the popularity of the businessman, who has been in jail since August 14.

Para comprar uma camiseta, é preciso depositar a partir de R$ 20 na conta corrente da Associação Pivi Projeto de Incentivo à Vida. Das duas mil camisetas confeccionadas, foram vendidas cerca de 300, segundo assessores do empresário. Com isso, estima-se que pelo menos R$ 6 mil foram arrecadados.

To get one of these T-shirts, you must deposit R$20 or more in the account of the Pivi Pro-Life Project. Of the 2,000 t-shirts made, some 300 have been sold, according to Maroni aides, yielding an estimated R$6,000 in donations.

The sale of 300 t-shirts in a city of 12 million constitutes “popularity”?

This, by the way, is a (wholly worthy, from the sound of it) charity supported by the city councilwoman for our area, Soninha of the PT: ex-MTV veejay, neo-ayahuasqueira, Folha de S. Paulo designated lefty-blogger, and international “excellence in blogging” juror.

I sometimes am tempted to think that the petista enclave we live in would be better off with some scruffy old-school trade unionist with a thick mustache, a megaphone, a satchel full of pamphlets, and an obsession with rousing the rabble over boring practicalities like getting traffic signals put in, streets paved, and municipal guardsman to patrol the nearby park and playground.

Lot of kids in this neighborhood.

But then again, I do not vote here, and do not ever plan to; I just pay the IPTU.

The woman’s public-speaking style has been described (by me) as “tautological belaborings of the obvious, uttered in awe-inspired tones and accompanied by mystical hand gestures.”

The last time we saw here on the boob tube, she insisted on assuming the full lotus atop her conventional four-legged chair — during a TV Justiça debate on drug policy in which she lectured the assembled experts at some length on the fact that booze is a drug, too, you know.

Which I tend to agree with. I mean, who doesn’t? On the other hand, one of the local details that continuously astonishes me is that you can still buy hard liquor in gas stations. Including that Fogo Paulista stuff. Yikes. You don’t even want to know.

The controversial “harm-reduction research” program directed at Ecstasy-popping club kids was another of Soninha’s initiatives, according to her Web site. See


“Is it a safe drug? … A drug might harm some while being harmless or beneficial to others.” The State of São Paulo’s scientific research funding agency thinks that some brain cell-killing, Reality Principle-undermining pyschotropic drugs might be good for some people? USP has a psychopharmacological R&D factory? In my day, Reed College was infamous for this, but it was totally illegal. Reed College also had the highest suicide rate of any college in the country, as I recall.

Anyway, I mention it only because Maroni’s press office has been hinting that the “sex-death hotelier” has a chance of receiving the endorsement of “a national political party” to run against the incumbent mayor, Kassab, in the 2008 mayoral election.

Then again, they have also been reporting that Maroni is seeking asylum abroad as a victim of political persecution.

Now, pardon my skepticism, but I would like to see the bank statements of the charitable foundation rather than just getting an estimate.

When a controversy erupted over gifts of high-end haute couture to the wife of São Paulo’s governor a couple of years ago, for example, she said she had donated the items to charity.

But the charity she named could not confirm the donation.

As Ronald Reagan liked to say, “trust but verify.”

G1, to its credit, seems to have heard of this principle:

A assessoria de Maroni não possui a contabilidade precisa das vendas, sob o argumento de que o dinheiro é depositado diretamente na conta da entidade. As camisetas, que começaram a ser vendidas no início de setembro, são retiradas no escritório do empresário mediante a apresentação do comprovante de depósito.

Maroni’s aides did not have precise records of sales, alleging that this is because the money is deposited directly into the organization’s account. The t-shirts, which went on sale in early September, are to be picked up at the businessman’s office after showing a receipt for the deposit.

O G1 entrou em contato com a Pivi, orfanato que atende 75 crianças no Mandaqui, na Zona Norte, mas a entidade não soube informar quanto foi arrecadado porque as doações são anônimas. A instituição atende crianças vítimas de maus-tratos, portadores de HIV e de outras patologias.

G1 contacted Pivi, an orphanage that serves 75 children in Mandaqui, in the Northern District of the city, but the organization could not say how much had been raised because the donations are anonymous. Pivi serves children who suffer from ill-treatment, HIV, and other pathologies.

The Web site of our vereadora says the charity serves 130 children.

A primeira instituição para a qual as vendas seriam destinadas rejeitou a ajuda de Maroni, recusando qualquer vínculo com o empresário. Já a Pivi comemorou as doações. “O dinheiro veio em um ótimo momento. A Vigilância Sanitária havia pedido readequações na casa e o custo disso tudo é alto. Nós não contamos com a ajuda do governo”, afirmou Aparecida de Freitas Peruche, do setor de campanha da entidade.

The first charity approached rejected Maroni’s offer of assistance and refused to have anything to do with the man. But Pivi is happy to have the donations. “The money comes at an opportune moment. The health inspector asked for upgrades to our facility, all of which is very expensive. We do not get government support,” said Aparecida de Freitas Peruche, who raises funds for the organization.

Desfilar nas ruas com a estampa do polêmico empresário no peito garante reações curiosas, segundo Ricardo Moroni, assessor de comunicação do Grupo OW, de Oscar Maroni. “A camiseta chama a atenção. Tem gente que apóia e diz que vai votar nele para prefeito”, diz ele.

Appearing in public wearing the face of the controversial businessman on one’s chest is sure to get draw curious reactions, says Ricardo Moroni, publicist of Maroni’s OW Group. “The t-shirt is an attention-grabber. There are people who express support and say they are going to vote Maroni for Mayor,” he says.

The Spartan 300 will sweep the sex magnate, with his $1,000 elephant-ear boots, into office!

It will be like the crucifixion scene at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus: “I am Oscar Maroni! No, I am Oscar Maroni!”

As camisetas fazem mais sucesso entre os homens. De acordo com o assessor, o perfil dos compradores é de homens jovens de 20 a 25 anos. Apenas cinco mulheres estiveram no escritório do empresário em busca da camiseta.

The t-shirts are more of a hit with men. According to the publicist, the typical buyer is a young man between 20 and 25. Only 5 women have come by to pick up t-shirts.

Oscar Maroni responde à acusação de favorecimento e exploração da prostituição, formação de quadrilha e tráfico de pessoas.

Oscar Maroni is charged with encouraging and exploiting prostitution, racketeering and trafficking in persons.

I would really like to get a copy of the indictment.

It is hardly the most important issue in the world — unless you actually believe that the recent Congonhas air disaster was the act of a vengeful God against this South American Sodom.

But it is, after all, a major phenomenon on YouTube. Which is all that matters these days. I, too, therefore, am curious, yellow.

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